US President Joe Biden on Tuesday accused the Chinese government of trying to interfere in negotiations over a broad China competition bill that would bolster domestic semiconductor manufacturing.
“Fundamentally, this is a national security issue. This is one of the reasons why the Chinese Communist Party is lobbying folks to oppose this bill,” Biden said on Tuesday in Troy, Alabama. “And it’s an issue that unites Democrats and Republicans. So, let’s get it done.”
He spoke during a tour of a Lockheed Martin Corp plant and made the case for passage of the long-stalled legislation by citing the more than 200 semiconductors needed to manufacture a Javelin antitank missile, which has been deployed by Ukrainian forces against Russian invaders.
Biden’s comments, made during remarks that centered chiefly on the war in Ukraine, were the most critical yet of the Chinese Communist Party.
The US Senate and House of Representatives could soon begin the formal conference process so the two chambers can reconcile their different versions of the measure, which is intended to strengthen competition with China. However, final passage is still months off.
Members of both parties support the US$52 billion in the legislation for domestic semiconductor manufacturing, but disagree on other provisions.
The Chinese embassy in Washington has been seeking meetings with US administration officials, congressional offices, think tanks and companies to gather information about the status of the bill and what provisions are likely to make it to the president’s desk, people familiar with the meeting requests said.
Administration officials have all declined the requests, as have many of the congressional offices, the people said.
An embassy spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment.
The White House declined to provide more details of the president’s accusation.
Biden often cites past conversations with Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) in which he challenged Xi’s view that democracies cannot deliver for their people.
After 15 months in office, the White House has yet to articulate a comprehensive China strategy, including what it will do with respect to economic disputes.
US officials for months have been deliberating about potential tariff reduction, new trade probes and the enforcement of former US president Donald Trump’s phase one trade deal.
Republicans believe the lack of a strategy that distinguishes the Biden team from Trump’s policies presents a vulnerability for Democrats in the November midterm elections.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken is set to outline the administration’s China policy in a speech this morning, but people familiar with the plans said it is not expected to lay out any new initiatives or details on the economic front.
Biden’s team continues to be at odds over what to do with hundreds of billions of US dollars in existing tariffs on Chinese goods, and has diverging views of whether and how hard to scrutinize US investments in China.
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